The three Nilgiri hill stations – Ooty, Coonoor, and Kotagiri sit high above the southern plains and are famous for producing delicious Nilgiri tea!
I had been to Coonoor with my 2-month-old son and 2 years and 2 months old daughter. This trip was a surprise planned by my husband to give us a break from the routine of taking caring of a two-month-old and a toddler. I have lovely memories of staying in the Taj properties in both Ooty and Coonoor.
Today’s Guest Post is by Sunami Paigankar who is a wanderlust communications professional.
The laidback town of Coonoor is not a destination to have packed itineraries and long to-do-lists. Coonoor is about long leisurely walks and reading a book. It is about sipping on some Nilgiri tea while basking in the breathtaking views.
Is Coonoor worth visiting? Yes, tucked away in the Nilgiri hills, away from the hustle and bustle of Ooty, Coonoor is a quaint hill station worth a visit. Lush green forests, pretty colonial bungalows, and verdant tea plantations instantly win over your heart.
So if your next question is when is the best time to visit Coonoor? I would say, that while the overall temperature in Coonoor is more or less the same throughout the year, the winter months (November-February) would be ideal to visit. The temperatures range from 17°C to 8°C making it perfect to go for nature trails in the day and cozy up to the fire at night.
If you prefer milder temperatures though, then March-May would be better, as the weather is pleasant and not too chilly. October is avoidable as it experiences heavy rainfall.
So what should you do when in this dreamy little gorgeous town?
For me, Coonoor was a surreal and relaxing break thanks to some very unique and therapeutic experiences which I have listed below.
5 offbeat things to do in Coonoor are:-
- Enjoy a gourmet tea-tasting experience
- Sign up for an art experience in the Nilgiris
- Learn how to make organic cheese
- Shop for indigenous products at The Green Shop
- Enjoy a meal with a view at the ‘Kapoor and Sons’ villa
A ride on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway toy train is a very touristy thing to do and I would still highly recommend it 🙂
Here’s my guide to exploring Coonoor the non-touristy way! I hope it makes your trip as memorable and fulfilling as mine was. Here are my recommendations in detail.
5 Offbeat things to do in Coonoor:
1. Enjoy a gourmet tea-tasting experience
When in the land of tea, one of the must-do experiences is a tea-tasting session in the lap of the Nilgiris.
I would recommend the tea-tasting session at Tranquilitea which is a boutique tea estate.
The owner first takes you around the family tea estate explaining the process of tea growing and plucking. It culminates with a tea appreciation session where you’re acquainted with the differences between black, green, white and oolong tea.
We tasted 6 types of tea, right from the exotic Silver tips tea to a machine brewed black tea to understand the difference between flavor and body of the tea. It was informative and fun and we took back some hand-rolled black tea with us.
What I loved about the session was that it was intimate and personal, and you could have a candid chat with the owner on things beyond tea.
This session requires prior reservation which can be booked here.
2. Sign up for an art experience in the Nilgiris
If you choose to stay at the Airbnb recommendation given below in this post, you can enjoy a guided painting session with the host who is an artist.
Painting amidst the lush green mountains is a really therapeutic and relaxing experience.
You can pick a painting of your choice that you wish to replicate or simply take inspiration from your surroundings, and paint your heart out!
This was the highlight of my trip!
If you love slow travel, try your hands at Travel Sketching, Painting, even Yoga. The following 3 posts will keep you creative in your Sojourn.
- How To Travel Sketch? Tips, Tricks, & Techniques For Beginners
- Are You Embarrassed By Your Painting Skills? Here’re Easy Painting ideas & Tips!
- Here is a curated list of 10 Yoga asanas or postures that are as good for the beginners as for the advanced practitioners. They are so simple that you can do them during your travels as well.
3. Learn how to make organic cheese
Head over to Acres Wild, an organic farm stay for a homemade gourmet cheese-making lesson.
It requires two complete days and at the end of the class, you would have learned to make some artisanal cheese ranging from Gouda to Feta to Cheddar. This link has all the details.
4. Shop for indigenous products at The Green Shop
The Green Shop promotes fair-trade practices and works with farmers in the Nilgiris to make available local produce and create better living standards for them.
From honey to beeswax to spices to body care products, you can shop for a variety of things here.
The famous Nilgiris chocolate-coated biscuits and Moddy’s dark chocolates are divine and a must-buy.
Another thing to note is that the shop is shut on Sundays.
5. Enjoy a meal with a view at the ‘Kapoor and Sons’ villa
La Belle Vie shot to fame since it was here where the Bollywood movie, Kapoor and Sons was shot.
Housed inside a beautiful colonial villa and overlooking perfectly manicured gardens, this place is perfect for a lazy afternoon lunch.
It has stunning views of the Nilgiris and dishes up some good European fare. The service is a bit slow, but the views make up for it.
In the following paragraphs I have answered frequently asked questions about Coonoor travel which will help you plan your trip to Coonoor 🙂
Enjoy Toy Train
(Note from Richa from Light Travel Action) As riding the toy train is a very touristy thing to do I am not counting it in the 5 offbeat things to do in Coonoor. But I feel that if you are in Ooty or Coonoor, riding the toy train is one of the fun things that you should not miss.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the train runs from Mettupalayam to Ooty, via Coonoor, in the Nilgiri Hills. It is surreal to see the train pass through tea estates, dainty villages, and forested hillsides of the Nilgiri hills.
The journey is 46 km (28 miles) long and negotiates 208 curves, 250 bridges, and 16 tunnels.
How to book the Coonoor to Ooty Toy Train?
- It’s a scenic 1.5 hours journey in a steam locomotive through the gorgeous Nilgiris
- This train ride gets sold out very quickly, and it’s advisable to book your tickets two months in advance on www.irctc.co.in
- Check the train time table here.
How do I get to Coonoor?
How do I get to Coonoor by air?
Nearest airports are:
- Coimbatore: ~70 kms
- Bangalore: ~300 kms
The fastest and simplest way to reach Coonoor is by flying into Coimbatore and hiring a taxi to Coonoor.
How do I get to Coonoor by train?
From Bangalore, you can take the following trains to reach Coimbatore from where you would have to hire a taxi. The average train travel time is 8 hours.
- Coimbatore Express
- Kanyakumari Express
- Ernakulam Express
From Mumbai, you can get on board the Coimbatore Express which has a travel time of 33 hours.
How can I go to Coonoor from Chennai?
- Air | Fly into Coimbatore: This is the fastest option with a flight time of 1 hour
- Train | Take the Nilgiri Express till Mettupalayam railway station with a travel time of 9 hours
- Bus | Several buses ply between Chennai and Coonoor with a travel time of 11 hours
The following two posts will help you in having a safe train travel in India.
- How To travel safely in Indian trains: 13 Awesome tips
- Everything You Need to Know about Traveling India By Train.
How can I go to Coimbatore from Coonoor?
- Taxi | With a distance of just 70 kms, you can get to Coimbatore in 1.5 hours
- Bus | A handful of buses also ply between Coimbatore and Coonoor with a travel time of 2.5 hours
How can I go to Ooty from Coonoor?
Taxi | With a distance of 19 kms, Ooty is best accessible by road
Where to stay in Coonoor?
We stayed at a gorgeous Airbnb accommodation which is Tuscan style home.
The host is an artist and there were lovely paintings adorning the walls of the entire house including his version of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry night’ in one of the bedrooms.
The view from the home of the rolling Nilgiri hills and emerald green tea estates was simply surreal.
Tip from Richa: Also check out the Kurumba Village Resort which is Inspired by the tribal art and decor of the ancient Kurumba people and is set amidst a fragrant spice garden, jackfruit and rosewood trees.
Pro Travel Tip for Coonoor
Coonoor experiences cool to pleasant temperatures all year round, but it can get quite chilly and windy at night, so carry some warm clothes, a thick sweatshirt would do!
Is Coorg and Coonoor same?
Many people confuse between Coorg and Coonoor and no they are not the same places. Coorg is a popular hill station in Karnataka While Coonoor is in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Lying serenely amidst high mountains and lush green forests, Coorg at a height of 1000 meters above sea level is known for its vast coffee plantations. On the other hand, Coonoor is at an elevation of 1850 meters above sea level and is largely known for its vast tea plantations.
Planning a trip to the mountains? You will find these posts helpful:-
Video on Coonoor tourist places
This video by The congenital comedians is a Hinglish Video. This video covers places like Sim’s Park, Dolphin’s Nose Viewpoint, Lamb’s rock, Droog Fort and Law’s Falls in Coonoor.
A picture speaks a thousand words. But, no picture can do justice to the beauty of this place. You really have to see it to experience the charm of this quaint hill station.